|Dutchman Wim Moes (top, right) and the father-son duo of Yudhajit and Kaushik Guha at the Eden Gardens on Tuesday. Pictures by Bishwarup Dutta
Cricket lovers turned up in numbers at the Eden Gardens to cheer a young Bengal side home against a strong Tamil Nadu squad on Tuesday.
A father-son duo, an elderly couple from north Calcutta, club cricketers and a Dutchman were among the 5,000 spectators crying themselves hoarse for Laxmi Ratan Shukla and his boys who skittled out the opposition for 90 runs in the 34th over to reach the Vijay Hazare Trophy semis. “SHAAAMMI SHAAAMMI” for ace bowler Mohammed Shami rang out as the home side defended 167 runs.
Yudhajit Guha, a seven year-old student of Nava Nalanda School, calls himself a fast bowler. “Shami and (Ashok) Dinda were unstoppable,” said the boy who was recently adjudged “most promising cricketer” at his school.
Father Kaushik makes it point to bring him to Eden whenever there is match. They were seated at one end of the wicket so that Yudhajit could watch Shami’s release and Ashok Dinda’s jump.
Prashant Kumar Sarkar, 79, from Tollygunge has been an Eden regular since 1969. He said he never saw so many people at the end of a first-class or List A game in a long time. “The boys need all our support and they got it, didn’t they?” he smiled. His sole grumble: a decent scoreboard “now that first-class games are fetching so many spectators”.
Wim Moes, 46, the board chairman of a polytechnic university in Groningen, Holland, could not resist the temptation to drop in when he who saw the lights at Eden. “I am so glad I came. This ground is unimaginably beautiful,” he declared. “I have never seen cricket like this… very high quality.”
A bubbly man seated behind him offered him a piece of advice: “Now, just make sure you go nowhere near our football grounds.”
The Chatterjees from Barasat — Dipen, 57, and Manju, 52 — were the serious spectators glued to every little occurrence on the pitch. “I think the boys compliment each other… if the batting fails, the bowling is there.”
The noisiest nooks in the stands, full of club cricketers like Rajib Keshri of Mohammedan Sporting — dancing and singing “Shamibhai”.
Gaurav Chaudhari, who represents Pakur district of Jharkhand, thought Bengal would go a long way. Well, that’s what Bengal would like to believe.